When I last blogged I was full of the joys of running, having just run my fastest 10k for some considerable time. It isn't going to last, I could hear you all say, but I was convinced that I would be able to run every day, I would enjoy every run, and I would just keep getting faster and faster until I reached the same performance level as in days gone by.
We are now in the 3rd week of January and of course it didn't last. Somewhat inevitably the end of my holiday marked the start of my slump, and I only achieved a miserable total of 30 miles running last week. That wasn't helped by the lack of a long run at the weekend, but in my defence it was the Strathearn Harriers annual dinner on Saturday night, so I wasn't exactly in the best shape to take on a 20 mile hard run on Sunday morning. Famous Grouse have just been announced as the new sponsor of our club's 10k (note the plug for the sponsor), and the dinner was held at the Famous Grouse experience in Crieff, so it seemed only right to partake in a few drams of their product - it would have been rude not to, after all.
I made do with a pleasant run around the hills near Comrie on Sunday afternoon with the president of Strathearn Harriers. As we set out it was hard to say which one of us felt worse, but the constant battle against the rain and wind cleared both our heads, and I felt almost normal again when we returned to the car an hour and a half later. I was soaked through to my underwear, but at least the cobwebs had been well and truly blown away.
At this stage I guess you might be wondering why this blog is called 'Arthur's Seat' when it hasn't been mentioned at all so far. I have to admit that, in my haste to tell you all about my wet underwear, I had almost forgotten myself. That is until I remembered my fantastic run at lunchtime today. It was a clear, cold and crisp day - the kind of day you expect in January rather than the constant rain that has been inflicted on us - and I headed out of the office, through the Meadows, past the Royal Commonwealth pool, and followed the road anticlockwise round Arthur's Seat. The initial view across the city to the Pentland Hills was great, but as I climbed higher it just got better and better - all the way down the coast to North Berwick, then across the Forth to Fife, then up the river to the bridges, and then across the whole of Edinburgh with the castle in the foreground and Corstorphine Hill beyond. It was truly magnificent. I would recommend this run for anyone visiting Edinburgh, particularly if it is a nice day.
Holyrood Park (which is right beside Arthur's Seat, for those who don't know Edinburgh) is hosting the World Cross Country Championships in March 2008. I'm sure it will be a great venue and occasion, just like the European Cross Country Championships which were also held there in December 2003. I helped out in 2003 and for my troubles was given a uniform: this included a waterproof jacket (one of the ones with a waterproof outer layer and a fleece inside), a sweatshirt, a pair of trousers, a t-shirt, and a pair of walking boots. I still wear the jacket and boots for walking the dogs, and the trousers for playing golf. By 2008 all are likely to need replaced, so it looks like I'll have no option but to volunteer again. How else will I get some new, top quality kit?